In 2018, Blue Water Industries donated a beautiful 8.5-acre parcel of land along the French Broad River to Legacy Parks. The property sits across the river from and overlooks the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on John Sevier Highway. Details here.
At the time of the donation, local veterans’ groups were voicing a need for a gathering place to honor and celebrate our veterans. The East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery typically hosts up to three services per day, precluding the ability to host other events. The proximity of the donated property to the cemetery provided the perfect location to create this place for reflection, commemoration and celebration.
This park will be a place for veterans and their families to pay tribute to their brothers and sisters who have gone before them.
With help from the veterans’ organizations and the East Tennessee Community Design Center, a design was created that includes:
- A pavilion for gatherings and events to accommodate up to 250 people
- An overlook with a panoramic view of the cemetery and the French Broad River
- A one-eighth mile ADA memorial walk with service memorial locations
- A reflective garden for more private or smaller gatherings
- A natural surface nature trail extending from the overlook and looping through the woods
- A memorial wall to honor individual veterans
In 2020, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs kicked off fundraising with a donation of $250,000 from Knox County. Support of the project from individuals and veterans’ organization was admirable.
Generous donations including a $10,000 gift from Captain Bill Robinson Chapter of Vietnam Veterans of America, $14,050 from AMVETS Tennessee, $500,000 from the state of Tennessee and sizable gifts from private donors, allowed Legacy Parks to meet the $1.3 million fundraising goal and allow for construction to begin in spring 2023.
Donations are still being solicited to fund enhancements to the park design and create a maintenance fund.
Once constructed, the park will be owned and managed by Knox County as a public park.
As a gathering place for all citizens, the Veterans Park will tell the story of the service and sacriﬁce by the veterans and families of our region. With nearly half a million veterans in Tennessee, a powerful story exists to be shared.
Project Partners: BlueWater Industries, Knox County, East Tennessee Community Design Center, IDI Placemaking, BarberMcMurry Architects, Hickory Construction, Hedstrom Landscape Architecture, S&ME, The Thought Bureau and numerous veterans’ organizations and individuals.
Carol Evans is executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation.